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All-Ireland: Our critics have got it all wrong, counters Maxie Curran

By John Campbell

Maxie Curran's encyclopaedic knowledge of football is proving an extremely important tool in Donegal's build-up to tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin.

Curran, an integral part of Jim McGuinness's management team, has himself managed clubs in Tyrone and Donegal and has made a close study of the overall inter-county scene.

His enthusiasm, commitment and informed analysis have been proving more than useful in Donegal's progress to date.

That's hardly surprising, of course. Curran has been involved with Donegal squads at every level from Under 14 through to senior, and has also managed the county ladies teams at senior and minor levels.

He has been in charge of Strabane Owen Roes and trained Termon when they reached the county final in 2008 having previously been assistant manager to Declan Bonner when Gaoth Dobhair contested the Donegal decider six years ago.

Like everyone else involved with the current Donegal set-up, Curran believes that victory over Dublin is attainable - and emphasises that the Ulster champions are not totally wedded to a stoic defensive strategy.

"If you look at the scores we totted up against teams like Cavan, Derry, Tyrone and Kildare I don't think that these indicate a side that is totally committed to defence," declares Curran.

He has a particular affinity with Tyrone and stresses that it was Donegal's win over the O'Neill county in the Ulster semi-final that really spawned the belief they could go places.

"We did not feel we played particularly well against Tyrone but we still came out on the right side," says Curran.

"Obviously the two late goals we got were a massive help to us but I thought our counter-attacking - mainly through Neil McGee and Karl Lacey - proved very crucial."

Even when Donegal floundered last year, he still clung to the belief that on an individual front they had good players but they were not harnessed into a winning combination.

When McGuinness was appointed manager and included Curran in his set-up, the latter was transformed from a disillusioned spectator into a passionate, zealous mentor whose 24/7 commitment to Donegal is widely recognised.

"It's a privilege to be involved with these players and to see how they have breathed fresh pride and integrity back into the county," says Curran.

"We were the whipping boys for too long but things have changed now.

"They will change even more should we beat Dublin."

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